Kindergarten: What You Need to Know NOW


Is your child ready to move out of pre-school and into Kindergarten? (Kindergarten is a full day program for students who are 5 years of age on or before September 1, 2015.) Are you ready for that journey? As I embark on this new journey of finding a Kindergarten for my child I am shocked and overwhelmed. Who knew selecting a Kindergarten would be equivalent to selecting a college?

Our choices are private, public, or magnet. We attend private tours, round-ups, open houses, previews, evaluations, and prepare short essays. The stress of admissions and finding the perfect place for your child is consuming. Do we keep up with the Jones, pay high tuitions or go to public schools? At the end of the day I just want to pick the best place for my daughter. A place where she can thrive, learn, build friendships and become a strong and confident woman. I also want to find a place where I can find families to build friendships with. Is that too much to ask for? I certainly do not think so. The process to make this decision takes place over a number of months.


Here are some important factors to consider when going through this process:

•Finding a school that is a good match
•Figuring out the private and public school application process
•Choosing the right school
•The Competitiveness for Admission
•K – 5th grade vs. K – 8th grade schools vs. K – High School
•What are you looking for in a school (i.e. class and school size, safety procedures, parental involvement, donations)
•Anxiety about affording the ”right” Kindergarten
•How many schools are you applying to
•Determine all important dates and calendar them
•Read all Contracts & Deposits
•Calendar all Entrance Exams, Interviews, & Assessments
•Private School vs. Public School
•Waiting Lists

These are not factors that our parents had to consider. Things were simpler back then. When I was five, I didn’t speak a word of English, my mom found the public school we were zoned for, registered me, dropped me off and said you will learn honey and have a nice day! I didn’t go every day nor did I go the entire day.

1st day of school

Not the case today. Today, our kids at the age of 5, can read, write, and do simple math. They know about science and social studies topics. They go every day and participate in after school activities. Here is a great Countdown to Kindergarten packet provided by Pinellas County Public Schools that will help your child transition to kindergarten.

A bedtime story

With these changing times we must learn to adapt and do the best we can.  Always go directly to the school’s website for detailed information. Also, if the admissions office is not answering all your questions, is not being attentive and showing a genuine interest in your child attending there, then find a place that will. This is a very important decision; if you do not feel 100% happy and comfortable move on. Ask questions, questions and more questions.  No question is a dumb question.  The worst that can happen is your child being admitted to a school and you thought it was something it was not because you didn’t ask THAT question.  Further, don’t sweat the evaluation process.  Let your child be themselves, that is what the schools are looking for.   Lastly, don’t worry about what everyone else is doing or how much they are paying for tuition. This decision is yours to make and if you follow your gut it will most likely lead you on the right path. GOOD LUCK!

 Links and Important Information

Kindergarten Students Learning to Tell Time

Hillsborough County Public Schools

Families are encouraged to attend Kindergarten Round Ups throughout the district January – February 2015.
The Hillsborough Choice application period for elementary schools closes February 11, 2015.
Magnet school recruitment events are included on the schedule and an application is needed for admission to a Magnet School. Students must receive an offer prior to registering at a magnet school.

To attend your Attendance Area School (assigned school based on your address)

  • Type your address in the online school locator to confirm your attendance area school. click here
  • If you would like your child(ren) to attend your Attendance Area School, attend the Kindergarten Round Up at that school and bring the items needed for registration listed below.
  • Students should be registered by the end of June 2015.

To attend a school other than your Attendance Area School

  • You must complete a Hillsborough Choice application.
  • View a list of schools available through the School Choice option (click here). View pages 2 and 3 for a complete list of elementary options. The application must be completed and submitted to the address noted on the application by February 11.
  • Families will receive notification in end of March.
  • For questions contact the Choice Information Line at (813) 272-4692.

Items needed for registration are as follows:

  • Birth Certificate
  • Social Security Card (if available)
  • Florida Physical HRS form supplied by Physician
    MUST BE A RECENT PHYSICAL WITHIN ONE YEAR (dated after August 19, 2014) of the first day of 2015 school year
  • Florida Immunization Record on HRS hard card (form #680 supplied by physician) – for more information click here.
  • Two forms of verification of address/student resident form (utility bill, lease or contract to purchase)

The kindergarten “round up” meetings are happening now through the end of February. It is important to check to find out when your school is meeting. For specific schools in Hillsborough, check the Hillsborough County Kindergarten Round-up schedule.

 Pinellas County Public Schools

Kindergarten registration is underway for 2015-16 school year. Request a school tour at your zoned elementary school.

To attend your Attendance Area School (assigned school based on your address)

Kindergarten is a free, full day program for students who are 5 years of age on or before September 1, 2015. To register, first locate your zoned elementary school and bring the following documents to your zoned school:
•Birth Certificate
•Proof of Residency (2 forms of documentation)
•Florida Certificate of Immunization (Free and low cost medical care is offered at several locations throughout Pinellas County.)
•Physical examination certificate

To attend a school other than your Attendance Area School

*Please note, the application period for Pinellas County Choice Programs is closed.

Pasco County Public Schools

To attend your Attendance Area School (assigned school based on your address)

Check with your school for registration days/hours.

Students entering a Florida school for the FIRST TIME, at any grade level, will be asked to present the following items upon registration at the school (please note special conditions in parentheses):

  • current immunization records (See Immunization/Physical requirements for school entry)
  • proof of a physical examination dated and signed by a licensed health professional within the last 12 months
  • Evidence of age (i.e. Birth Certificate. Please see F.S. 1003.21 for a complete list of acceptable documents
  • Social Security number (if available)
  • proof of Florida residency (such as utility bill (i.e. water, electric, gas, etc.), properly executed lease agreement, etc.)
  • copy of student’s last report card (if applicable)
  • legal guardianship records (if applicable)

To attend a school other than your Attendance Area School

School Choice Open Enrollment
The District School Board of Pasco County’s School Choice Open Enrollment initiative provides an opportunity for a Pasco County student to attend a public school outside the student’s assigned boundary area, as well as public schools in neighboring counties, as long as the requested school is not critically overcrowded. The parent/guardian of a student wishing to attend a school outside his/her boundary area must submit a School Choice Open Enrollment Application to the District School Board of Pasco County during the established open enrollment period. Submitting an application does not guarantee that the student will be approved to transfer to the requested school of choice.

Open Enrollment Timeline
School Choice Open Enrollment Applications for the following school year will be accepted February 1 – March 1.  Applications must be received electronically no later than March 1st.  Applications for multiple children, multiple schools or incomplete applications will not be considered.

Private Schools

Private schools vary in requirements, cost, and time lines. There are a number of private school options in the Tampa Bay area. Corbett Prep and Montessori schools are two that we have previously featured.

Asian GirlPlease note: Students entering kindergarten for the first time must be 5 years of age on or before September 1st. Voluntary PreK/HeadStart/Early Start programs are available for students who do not meet the age requirements: Hillsborough County VPK, Pinellas County VPK, Pasco County VPK.

For a list of public schools and ratings
For a list of private school ratings

For some more great tips before your little one heads off to school, be sure to check out: On Being a First Time Kindergarten Mom.

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One Response to Kindergarten: What You Need to Know NOW

  1. Ashley Strachan January 22, 2015 at 10:44 pm #

    For Hillsborough county, you left off Charter Schools. This is yet another option that parents have. Charter schools are public schools run by private institutions.